Grounds Keeper Gavin Dickason reflects on his time in the Royal Navy
With the 40th anniversary of the end of the Falklands War this month, Gavin Dickason, our maintenance and groundskeeper at Thamesfield, has been reflecting on his time in service and shared some of his experiences with the residents.
Gavin was 17 years old when he served during the Falklands War. He was involved in the Flight Deck; which included landing aircraft, securing aircraft, refueling, loading ammunition, firefighting, general safety, and crash-boat crew.
In October 1981, he went to the Far East on the RAF Fort Austin and did a tour of Naval Exercises. On the return trip in April 1982, whilst in the Mediterranean Sea, suddenly the crew was addressed by the Captain of the Ship, and it was that moment the crew learned of the beginnings of trouble in the Falklands and the ship might need to head to the area for support. As more information on the situation came to light, it became clear the ship and crew would be required and were ordered to join the other crews heading to the Falklands.
The crew had already been at sea for 6 months, so the Captain gave everyone a choice to either go home or head towards the Falklands. The whole crew, including Gavin, agreed to join The Falklands. Gavin comments, “I believe this defined us as to who we were as a group, our responsibilities, belief, and the commitment that we all shared and to our country.”
Gavin’s time in the Falklands meant that he and the rest of the crew were at sea for a total of 12 months/ Looking back Gavin doesn’t regret any of the decisions he made at the time. The crew returned home as heroes and Gavin is immensely proud to have served the people. He believes the experience made him the man he is today and enabled him to learn a great deal, particularly about the principles of life.
The residents gathered in the lounge at Thamesfield to listen to Gavin, some even shared their own experiences of service in wartime, reflecting on sacrifices on their own.